Monday, June 16, 2008

Sometimes in Haiti you pay because you can

Sunday we had a bunch of things to do in Port. At the end of the errands we were heading to a party for the worship team people from church.

Above is an amazingly artistic aerial view of the scene. We are the vehicle waiting to turn left. A tap-tap was loading so we could not turn. The tap tap is the smaller square to the left. The thin arrow is a motorcycle and that is the way he chose to pass the two trucks standing still. He was maybe not very smart. We turned left - assuming that because the tap tap had pulled away we were free to do so -- and the motorcyle ran directly into our front drivers side tire. The purple is the crash site. (Purple used for dramatization.)

In Haiti, rules are sort of ... how shall we say ... stupid. The rule is, whoever is a better actor wins. In hindsight Troy messed up when he did not instantly fall to the ground flailing about in pain. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. It is all about show-business. (Take note for future trips here.)

The motorcycle driver and our truck were both moving very slowly. The bike was not damaged. No one even got scraped enough to bleed. The driver actually stood up, picked his bike up, moved it to safety all by himself and then ... bam, the injury set in. Below is a reenactment of his fall to the ground once he had used his two arms and two legs to move his bike. Once he fell to the ground, he never again was able to walk or talk or move freely in front of us. Oh, no scratch that ... he was suddenly able to talk again when he was negotiating how much money we were going to give him in order to be done with it all.

About 30 people gathered to yell and interject their opinions into the accident that they had NOT WITNESSED - it was a real blast I tell you. Knowing we could not walk away without a riot, we put the guy in the back of our truck. He refused to move, we lifted him in. I rode with him in back. We took him to a nearby hospital.

The doctor at the hospital clearly knew we were getting scammed. He looked at him, gave him a shot most likely containing a placebo to keep him from further dramatizing, an Rx for some ibuprofen and sent us on our way. A full two and a half hours after the collision we brought the guy home and heard how much it would cost to get him around for the next many days while his legs regained function and his back stopped killing him. Troy complained about the scam that it was. Our Haitian attorney friend said, "Yes. That is the problem in Haiti. Sometimes you pay because you can."

We paid the money and left. TIH.  We heard the party was very nice.